For many Christian schools the athletic season ends with the last basketball game. Aside from participation in individual sports here and there, the secondary student body goes into a state of athletic dormancy. This can be so detrimental to not only your school’s athletic department but also to you secondary program as well. Athletic directors must keep momentum rolling through the doldrums of spring. If your school does not currently participate in spring team sports, then this post is for you.
Obviously, today’s post probably doesn’t apply to the ADs at bigger schools. Most schools with a high school enrollment of forty students or greater are able to field team sports in the spring.
However, if your school is under that cutoff line, your spring sport participation is probably based on year to year interest, numbers, and ability.
If your school is large enough to support spring teams and you’re currently not doing so, then you are doing yourself a disservice. Figure out what your school is capable of doing in the spring and get it rolling.
For the majority of us, though, spring is a tricky time of the year. It’s important, however, not to let the student body slip into that state of athletic dormancy as we mentioned earlier.
Here are four reasons why your athletic department should stay active in the spring. We’ve also included a bonus section including some creative ideas for spring programs for smaller athletic departments.
Loss of Conditioning
We’ve all seen it. Fall soccer or football players show up to pre-season workouts sluggish, puking, and out of shape. Some of that has to do with a lazy summer at the beach. Much of it has to do with not doing anything athletic since the end of the previous basketball season.
In our experience most kids enjoy physical training. They may hate certain things about it, but they do enjoy being presented with a physical challenge and completing it. However, like most people, high schoolers do better in a group versus training alone.
Junior high and high school athletes will do better training in a group than they would do on their own.
Your athletes need direction for conditioning. Even the most motivated will slack off during the off-season without a coach to set the plan and teammates to work alongside of them.
Don’t let the spring be the beginning of a downward physical spiral ending in August.
As a teacher, I’m sure you’ve noticed the dip in grades that starts around March. Lack of athletic competition isn’t the only reason for grade problems. Lots of students, athletes or not, tend to start to coast around March. It’s been a long school year thus far and the end is in sight.
The athletic grade checks are what keep many athletes motivated to perform well in the classroom.
As an educator the previous statement is very frustrating. Students should be engaged in the classroom because it’s important to their future. But the overwhelming truth is that some students make the grade they need to in order to stay eligible for sports.
With no spring activities, these fringe students’ grades will dip down low. Nobody wants that. Give them something to keep fighting for.
Loss of Excitement
With nothing going on in the spring, it’s easy to forget about the successes and improvements of the fall and winter teams.
Without this continuing excitement of team growth and physical activity, many students will forget some of the major things that they enjoy about your school. Keep them engaged athletically in order to keep positive momentum going forward.
Did your fall and winter teams have less than stellar (read: awful) seasons? That’s ok, too.
The spring season can give you a time to rebrand and focus on the future of next year.
Use the spring season to do whatever your athletic department needs. If it’s maintaining positive energy, do it. If it’s reconstructing excitement that was lost over the course of a tough year, then get to it.
You can’t afford just to let your athletes sit around, though. Keep them busy!
Keeps Coaches Engaged
We’re all humans. Students aren’t the only ones who start to coast in March. Coaches and ADs start as well. Think about it, basketball season has ended, there’s no major spring sports, everything has slowed down. Time to relax, right? Wrong!
Just because there’s no home games to prep the gym or field for doesn’t mean we can slow down.
Coaches should always be in-season.
Use the spring season to try out some new things. Use the spring season to build relationships with players. Fall and winter sports tend to be more pressurized in Christian schools. The spring can give you time to improve your athletes in a more pleasurable environment.
If the coaches and AD go into hibernation after basketball season, the athletes will do the same.
Ideas for Schools with No Spring Programs
First off, every school is different. Facilities, people, and equipment all vary from school to school. The trick is to find something that fits your athletic department for the spring and do it.
Fitness Club – Start a two or three day a week program to build the strength, speed, and agility of your athletes. Google or YouTube some fitness ideas. No matter what your situation, you can make this work.
Spring Leagues – rules from league to league will dictate whether or not you can do this. Coaches can only have so many contact hours with an entire team during the off-season. However, others can step in and coach. Currently at VBA, about ten of our volleyball players are split up between two teams in our city volleyball rec league. Almost all of our boys are playing 7v7 indoor soccer. It’s very low key for both sports, but it keeps them practicing and competing. It’s also preparing for the fall.
Issue a Challenge – this could be similar to a fitness club, but it’s less stress on those in charge. Instead of leading the group in activity, you issue an athletic challenge. Compile a list of goals that your athletes should complete (1,000 pushups, 50 miles, weight training goals, etc…). Open the gym/facilities two to three days a week for the kids put in work. Track everyone’s progress and award some winners or high achievers.
Start a Minor Sports Team – We don’t mean choose a minor sport and go with it. What we mean is to start a group that meets a few times a week. During the meetings/practices you go through some normal conditioning stuff followed by a time where you compete in a minor sport. You could do all kinds of sports without to much financial investment. Ultimate frisbee, dodgeball, capture the flag, anything; go as high as your creative ceiling will allow. (Kronum!!!)
You’ve invested too much in your athletic department to let the wheels stop spinning in the spring. Keep the momentum going! Push forward and improve your program!